The Depth of the Largest and Smallest Oceans Compared

The oceans of the world comprise approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface. Oceanographers classify the world’s oceans into five distinct bodies of water, with the Pacific Ocean being the largest and the Arctic Ocean the smallest. Other world oceans include the Atlantic, Indian and the Southern Oceans. The total area of the world ocean covers 361 million km² (140 million miles²), and the total volume is approximately 1.35 billion km³ (322 million miles³).  Its maximum depth is estimated to be 10,971 meters (6.8 miles) in the Pacific Ocean, contrasting with the shallow waters of the Arctic Ocean.

Pacific Ocean

The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest ocean in the world. It covers more than one third of Earth’s surface and nearly half the Earth’s water surface. The Pacific Ocean is bounded by the American continent in the east; on the west by the Indo-Australian Archipelago; and on the south by the Southern ocean.  Its area covers 155 million km² (59 million miles²) with an average depth of 3,790 meters (12,430 ft.). The Mariana trench, in the north western Pacific Ocean, is where the deepest point in the world is found. The trench is approximately 2,550 km (1,580 miles) long and 70 km (43 miles) across. It reaches a maximum depth of 11,030 meters (36,200 ft.) at a point known as the Challenger Deep in the southern most region of the Mariana Trench.

Arctic Ocean

The Arctic Ocean is the smallest and shallowest ocean in the planet. Located in the Arctic North Polar Region, the Arctic Ocean extends south of the north pole to the coasts of North America, Greenland and Eurasia. The Arctic Ocean occupies a semicircular basin and covers an area of approximately 14 million km2 (5.4 million miles2). The Arctic’s ocean average depth is of approximately 1,100 meters (3,600 ft.). One third of the Arctic Ocean comprises a continental shallow shelf. The deepest point is found in the Eurasian Basin at a depth of 5,450 meters (17,880 ft.). The ocean floor is marked by abyssal plains, faulty ridges and basins. The two main oceanic basins are further subdivided by ridges into various oceanic basins.

The depth of the largest and smallest oceans compared

While the difference in surface area might seem obvious by looking at a world map, it is useful to note that the Pacific Ocean waters are the deepest in the world with an average depth of 3,790 meters (12,430 ft.), and a maximum depth of 10,971 meters (6.8 miles) found at the Mariana Trench east of the Mariana Islands in the North Pacific. In contrast, the Arctic Ocean average depth is nearly one third that of the Pacific, and the deepest point is roughly ½ that of the pacific. This makes the Pacific Ocean deeper on average than the Arctic Ocean, and more than twice as deep, comparing their deepest points.

More is known about the Pacific Ocean since it has been more explored than the Arctic Ocean; however, with the advent of modern technology, man has been able to reach the depths of both oceans, gaining new understanding about their physical and biological distribution. Most developments for exploring the deep ocean floor have been witnessed over the last 150 years. On august, 2009, the Russian –American Long Term Census (RUSALCA) set sail on a mission to do research studies on the Arctic Ocean, particularly the Bering Strait, which acts as a gateway between the Pacific Ocean and the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is partly covered by ice throughout most of the year, making expeditions to those icy regions a real challenge.